It started four hours later than listed in the fair guide, and the course was tucked away in back between the make-up rings.
Then the grass had to be sprayed with vinegar to reduce animal odors.
However, that didn’t stop dogs and their handlers from having a good time at the Delaware County Fair’s 4-H Agility Show on Monday.
The Agility Show is an obstacle course for dogs, the canine equivalent of American Ninja Warrior.
“You have to have total control of your dog, or else it’s just going to run around,” said Shelly Harris, chair of the Dog Committee. “You’ll see some dogs get what we call the zoomies, where they just take off and run around. Their handler will be calling them back and they’re not listening.”
Another problem is a dog might get distracted by the scent of other animals and stop running the course, which explains the vinegar spray.
In order to compete in agility, the handler and dog have to go through a year of obedience training. The obedience, showmanship and costume portions of the 4-H Dog Show already took place on Sunday. “It was a long day,” Harris said.
The courses were set up differently according to the class, but they had many of the same elements — fence jumps that were adjusted according to the height of the dog, an A-frame wooden mountain, a table the dog had to stay on for five seconds, a tunnel to run through and a tire to jump through. If the dog knocked the bar off the jump, or wasn’t able to be coaxed back to complete an obstacle, or obstacles were completed out of order, points were taken off. The event was also timed.
There were classes where the dog was on a leash, and others where they weren’t. Either way, the handler ran alongside the dog. In the first half hour of the show, all the dogs completed the course, although there were some who balked on a few obstacles. The judge and trainer urged those handlers to have their dog go back and try again, and rooted for them when they finally got through the course.
“I liked how fast-paced it was and how hard you had to work with your dog and pay attention to your body language,” said Brooke Karshner, a former competitor who is now an adviser. “Your dog really looks to you. If I turn this way, he’s going to think I want to go this way. It’s a lot of fun, and the dogs really like it, too.”
At 9 a.m. Sept. 26, the dog shows conclude with what is called a rally, where the handler leads the dog to stations with signs, and the dog has to do what the signs say.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.